Currently the age limit for access to social media (eg WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) is 13 years old, yet many children use the Internet already during the first years of primary school (when they are 6 -7 years old).
The holder of the SIM card for minors (usually a parent) is responsible for the contents transmitted and for any damage caused to others.
In relation to the age of the child, accompaniment to the use of the Internet by an adult (parent, teacher, educator) is essential. With preadolescence and adolescence the use of the Internet intensifies: young people download music, use search engines to find information, visit websites, send and receive text messages, use e-mail and online games. Adult supervision is therefore fundamental in this phase too, since greater knowledge and awareness linked to growth do not, however, protect against the risks of the network.
For your child, protection is not given only by “filters” applied to the computer: constant and continuous dialogue, closeness and participation in the problems of your children is essential.
Parents have the task of guiding and supporting their children, encouraging them to cope with the difficulties of growth, taking an interest in how their children behave at school and in other social or recreational settings. This must take place in an atmosphere of dialogue and collaboration between the most important educational agencies in the lives of children.
In order to create effective educational synergies in the school environment, it is important to enhance the sharing of the “shared responsibility educational agreement” that parents, students and teachers sign at the beginning of the school year. The resulting awareness allows everyone to live in a positive climate in which the rights and duties of each are respected and the values of respect and tolerance towards diversity are promoted.
SIGNALS TO PAY ATTENTION TO
Parents, knowing their child, should pay attention to changing habitual behaviors.
If you think your child is being bullied some signals could be:
- unmotivated and sudden changes of mood (sadness, aggression, apathy, …);
- recurrent discomfort before going to school (headache, stomachache, …);
- variations in eating habits;
- bruises, wounds or torn clothes;
- loneliness and sensation of exclusion (in the group, on social media);
- ruined or stolen personal items or school material;
- sleep agitated by recurring nightmares;
- loss of interest in school and extracurricular activities with a consequent drop in performance;
- he/she asks in a recurring manner or steals money from home (perhaps concealing money requests from bullies).
If you think your child is a bully some signals could be:
- objects or materials that are not its own;
- an unjustified financial availability;
- little empathy;
- he/she attends disreputable groups or companies.
If you learn that your child is a victim or a bully it is important that your child knows that:
- he/she can count in any case on your support as parents, you can share your emotions and experiences with you;
- he/she can contact, with your support, the reference adults of the place where the events occur (for example at school, at sports or recreational associations), so that measures can be taken;
- there are professionals with specific skills they can turn to.
Parental intervention is essential because:
- it improves the child’s condition in his living environments;
- it brings out the relational difficulties of both bullies and victims in order to activate support and help paths;
- it interrupts the vicious circle of violence suffered which leaves indelible traces on the victim;
- it avoids the consolidation of deviant and delinquent behavior.
TIPS TO HELP CHILDREN TO MANAGE SITUATIONS RELATED TO BULLYING
- Always encourage dialogue with your children. Trust them when they tell you unpleasant episodes, without underestimating or emphasizing them, taking their fears and feelings seriously and trying to understand what happened.
- If bullying occurs at school, talk sincerely with your children’s teachers to evaluate together how to act.
- If your child is involved in incidents of bullying do not hesitate to contact the appropriate professional support.
- If your child is the bully, never justify his behavior.
- If your child is a bully it is important to ask for help so that he can understand the values of the rules and respect for others.
TIPS TO SAFEGUARD CHILDREN FROM
THE DANGERS OF NEW TECHNOLOGIES
- Keep yourself informed about your children’s online activities. It’s a great way to understand how they behave on the internet and to make them aware of any dangers.
- Establish rules for the use of technologies based on the age of the children: usage time, visited websites, used passwords; do not allow the use of technological tools during the night, in particular of the smartphone.
- Talk openly with your children about the risks that may arise during navigation. Children must be aware of the dangers they face and know that they can confide in their parents in case of bad virtual experiences.
- Ask your child what informations he thinks are appropriate to share online and which is best to avoid to share.
- Explain to your children that you should never provide personal data to strangers online (name, age, address, phone number, e-mail, personal photos).
- Explain to your children to not accept friendship from strangers on Facebook or the importance of using anonymous social media: you don’t live by just likes!
- Teach your children that unlawful behaviors in the real world (for example, insulting a person, stealing credentials from a friend, illegally accessing a site or a service) are illegal even online.
- Teach your children to block those who annoy them on social media.